One of the most interesting subtopics contained within Chapter 3 is the one that talks about Matching Agents to Agents (3.5). This subject acquires a relevant dimension if it is analyzed after recognizing one of the fundamental characteristics of the human being; the social condition of our nature. There are many texts written in different branches of knowledge – philosophy, psychology, sociology and economics to mention a few – that have stated the remarked need of man to be in constant contact with others to be fully developed, resulting arrogant to believe that the human being can be understood in isolation. Following this logic, it is correct to remark that, as humans, we are constantly facing the decision problem of matching ourselves with others in order to form social relationships, wether they are of social, laboral, romantic or any other kind.
One of the most difficult matching problems that we face in our life is the related with the choice of a romantic partner. The anxiety provoked by this decision is probably due to the importance and impact that he or she will potentially have in our future life. The perceived risk of ending up paired with someone who doesn’t fulfill our expectations or being brokenhearted after discovering that you and your partner weren’t “meant to be”. So thanks to the development reached in technology and programming, the digital era offers a great quantity of “Apps” whose principal goal is to find partner candidates and, in the more sophisticated cases, propose ideal matchings.
This apps face many problems in achieving their goal, whose principal issue must be that they work exactly as “speed dating nights”. As Professor Pancs remark in page 142:
“A monogamous match right at the end of a speed-dating night might not be desirable. Much uncertainty remains after a series of four-minute speed dates. One may hesitate to base the final match recommendations on the information revealed during such brief encounters. Instead, it is useful to go on further dates, with multiple partners, to get to know them better, and only then settle on a single person to date.” R. Pancs
Making a simile between speed dating and dating apps, the main problem to solve is that there is not enough information to establish each agents preferences, analyze them and then proceed to run an centralized algorithm in order to find the optimal romantic allocations.
So last week I was wondering a way in which dating apps could solve this issue, and while reading that micro-data incorporation in apps like Tinder will eventually diminish the range of unsuccessful encounters, I’ve found that the Chapter 4 of Season 4 of the great British TV Show Black Mirror propose a futuristic but ad hoc solution.
The plot of the chapter Hang The DJ centers on the experience of two couple seekers and their experience with the dating app, that is perfectly described by Lizzie Plaugic in his review for The Verge
“In this world, dating is a highly regulated process managed by something called The System, which promises every user that they’ll eventually end up with their perfect life partner. Users interface with The System through disc-shaped devices equipped with a seemingly sentient voice assistant called Coach. The System decides a user’s matches, where they’ll go on their dates, what they eat there, and most importantly, how long each “relationship” will last. Each couple is given an “expiry date” determined in advance by The System’s algorithm; it could be anything from hours to years. This eliminates one source of dating anxiety (will it last?) and replaces it with another. (Why spend several years of your life in a relationship you know will eventually end?)”
“The System’s big claim is that each date will get users closer to their “ultimate compatible other” — the perfect soulmate that always seems to be waiting in fiction, in romance novels and romantic movies. The idea is that every date will give The System more data it can use to determine that person’s perfect match, with a 99.8 percent success rate. Conceptually, it’s not unlike our current “system,” where apps collect enough data to effectively push products at users, or predict human behavior. There are already apps that collect data about your dates to determine whether you actually like them, and apps that award successful couples with “milestone gifts.” This past November, Tinder announced that it plans to release consumer-facing AI features that will “blur lines between the physical and digital world.””
So, this app founds an efficient way to run a centralized (DA) algorithm; by obtaining so much information of each relationship imposed, The System obtains all the necessary information of each one so they can enlist their preferences and then proceed to match, eliminating the uncertainty. One of the main differences from the usual DA is that here, no one chooses or is chosen, making possible to match top crossed preferences, achieving the optimal option for both pairs and removing this duality of “Man/Woman- optimal <–> Woman/Man-pessimal” from the process. With this information of preferences, it is also feasible to determine the existence of Blocking Pairs (that can be perfectly interpreted as soulmates) whose presence –as one can see in the romantic twist of the chapter – will broke the code.
What do you think? Is this interpretation conceptually wrong?
I am impatient to read your pertinent comments.